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dc.contributor.advisorTaylor, John
dc.contributor.advisorYamaguchi, Masataka
dc.contributor.advisorJordan, Jennifer
dc.contributor.authorTay, Dennis
dc.identifier.citationTay, D. (2011). Metaphor in Psychotherapy: Description and Applications (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThe relationship between metaphor, language, and thought, as hypothesised by cognitive linguists, requires detailed investigation of actual metaphor use in different situations and contexts. Researchers have examined metaphors in contexts as diverse as economics, politics, art, science, and advertising, both for the inherent interest in how metaphors function therein, and to interrogate cognitivist claims about the nature of metaphor. There has recently been an interest in furthering this descriptive imperative by considering the prescriptive aspects, or applicability, of metaphor. The main question is how advancements in metaphor theory can contribute to the judicious use of metaphors in the performance of language constituted “real world” activities. This thesis undertakes a discourse analysis of metaphors in the verbally enacted mental health resource of psychotherapy. My primary linguistic objective is to show how metaphors used in psychotherapy are shaped by its nature, and inform aspects of metaphor theory in significant ways. On the other hand, although many therapists profess an interest in metaphors, therapeutic research has been perceptibly indifferent towards relevant advancements in metaphor theory in the language sciences. The secondary therapeutic objective of this thesis is therefore to show how a discourse analytic approach to psychotherapeutic metaphors can potentially enhance their clinical use and management. Aspects of metaphor theory to be discussed are 1) the ideational resources of metaphor, which concerns whether therapeutic metaphors are ultimately constructed out of embodied, cultural, or individual-specific knowledge; 2) the rhetorical development of extended metaphors, which describes how source-target associations are elaborated in strategic and patterned ways in therapeutic talk; 3) the variability and variation of metaphor, which refer to how therapists and patients flexibly switch between different sources and targets, or innovate from conventional conceptual metaphors; and 4) the co-text of metaphors, which poses the question of how metaphors interact with co-textual elements (e.g. discourse markers) in their mutual constitution of psychotherapeutic talk. Therapeutic implications stemming from the above analyses include 1) how embodied, cultural, and individual-specific knowledge can be harnessed in complementary fashion for therapeutic purposes, 2) how rhetorical strategies can help therapists guide their patients towards more useful elaborations of their own metaphoric conceptualisations, 3) how variability of metaphor use can be associated with certain discourse objectives in psychotherapeutic interaction, 4) how varying instantiations of conceptual metaphors used to talk about psychotherapy contributes a channel of feedback to therapeutic theorisation, and 5) how the naturalistic distribution of discourse markers in extended metaphors implies more effective ways of communicating them to patients. I conclude the thesis by offering a synthesised summary of the discussion, highlighting emergent themes about the nature of metaphor in psychotherapy, and suggesting future directions both for metaphor research and psychotherapeutic practice.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectdiscourse analysis
dc.subjectcognitive linguistics
dc.titleMetaphor in Psychotherapy: Description and Applications
dc.typeThesis (Linguistics) of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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